What is an Expungement vs. Nolle Prosequi vs. Stet?

In Maryland, a criminal case can be closed either through a Nolle Prosequi or a Stet. What are the differences of those two? And what is an expungement? When does that take place?

An expungement is the deletion and removal of all court and police records related to a defendant’s charges and case. This means the case is removed from public record. Once expunged, in certain circumstances, the defendant can state that an arrest/citation/charge never even occurred for this case.

Nolle Prosequi

Nolle Prosequi is a Latin term that means “no longer prosecute.” In Maryland, when the State enters a nolle prosequi, it means that the State is electing not to pursue the case and is dropping the charges. A Nolle Prosequi means the case is closed, and potentially can be expunged immediately.

Stet Docket
Stet means the case has been closed statistically as “inactive.” The case may be reopened at a later time if the defendant either doesn’t fulfill what was agreed to do–whether that is complete community service, a drug class, restitution, stay away order, refrain from picking up any new charges, etc.–or if the defendant wishes to reopen the case. A case that has been Stet is not a conviction, but cannot be expunged until after three years have passed. If the defendant wants an expungement of a Stet, he or she either needs to have the Stet case converted to a Nolle Prosequi or simply wait until enough time has passed before being eligible.

It is important to note that Nolle Prosequi and Stet cases are NOT convictions! However, the court and arrest records still exist for those cases unless and until they are expunged. Thus, if someone has a Nolle Prosequi or a Stet that person would still need to answer in the affirmative that he or she had been previously arrested/cited/charged in that case, if it were to come up in an application, background check, interview, etc. For more help or questions, contact our office at 301-875-3472.

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